That unassuming patch of green you call your lawn has an interesting history, and it is one you might find eye-opening considering Monsanto’s latest bid to take it over.
The sprawling carpet of lush grass was once a sign of wealth for nobility. Sure, we used to run through the tall grasses, and even hide from predators in the African Savanna, but the lawn more recently has become a symbol of status. For the upper class of 17th century Europe, the lawn was not a means to hunt dinner, or even grow food like fruit trees, tomatoes, peas, or corn, but to show off a massive castle or mansion.
In the 1650s, immigrants to America brought grass seeds with them and started to spread them around. The grass seeds were so coveted that they were often hand carried in small bundles.
Remnants of this history can be seen in American cities named such things as ‘Bowling Green,’ in areas like Virginia and Boston. The wealthy, who could afford lawns, later began to play games on them.
Today, the lawn has become a time-consuming, useless magnet for pesticide pollution. No longer a stretch of artificial glade, the lawn is now ground zero for a Scotts Miracle-Gro merger with Monsanto to unleash genetically modified grass that can withstand the spraying of carcinogenic RoundUp, Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide. Notice that the word grow is missing a ‘w’ in the name. That’s because nothing grows when you spray glyphosate. It is asystemic herbicide which moves through the plant itself. It kills not just ‘weeds,’ but other plants growing in your garden.
Moreover, though industry-supported studies say that glyphosate is minimally toxic to bees, other peer-reviewed findings say the opposite. One groundbreaking study found that glyphosate causes bees to starve to death. Other studies have shown that pesticides like Roundup cause bees to be more forgetful, making it more difficult for them to find flowers which contain pollen for honey-making.
Anecdotal evidence for third-generation beekeepers also points to glyphosate as a culprit for killing our pollinating insects. This is a side-effect of spraying our lawns with Miracle-Gro laced with Round Up.
Scotts previously teamed up with Monsanto to make glyphosate-based herbicides for golf courses, though they ran into a bit of trouble in the process of getting it legally to market. The company was fined $500,000 when a creeping GMO grass was found in parts of Oregon where it could have contaminated pasture land or non-GM grain fields.
Scotts Miracle-Gro glyphosate-tolerant grass is in trials, due to a new legal loophole that has allowed biotech varieties, such as the CRISPR-edited white button mushroom, to bypass government regulations. Scotts’ grass is supposed to grow more slowly than conventional grass so that it doesn’t have to be maintained as frequently.
Another, perhaps more compassionate and responsible option? Rip out your lawn and grow some food. That’s what many families are now doing, instead of perpetuating the ruling class legacy of a sprawling lawn which has now become toxic.
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